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How to apply for a bridging visa?
Most of the time you don’t need to make a formal application for a bridging visa. This is because it is granted to you by operation of law.
Is the application necessary?
A formal bridging visa application is usually not needed if you apply for a further visa while you are in Australia and you already hold a substantive visa at the time of making your further visa application.
The reason why a formal visa application for a bridging visa might not be required is that by operation of law, the valid application for a further visa in Australia is typically (but not always) deemed to be an application for a bridging visa as well. That application is usually always granted, either manually or automatically.
The purpose of a bridging visa is to bridge the gap, if any, between the time at which your current substantive visa expires and the point in time when your new substantive visa is granted.
The bridging visa is a mechanism for keeping you lawfully present in Australia.
If a bridging visa was not to be granted, then it would mean that you would be an unlawful non-citizen, present in Australia for that period between when your substantive visa expires and your further visa is decided.
Types of bridging visas
The three most common types of bridging visas are a, b, and e.
Which do you have?
The most important thing to check is that you always have a visa whilst you are in Australia (if you’re not the holder of an Australian passport).
You can check the visa that you hold at any time by completing a VEVO check. It’s online and free.
Be careful with a bridging visa b (BVB). Its purpose is to allow you to leave and return to Australia whilst you are waiting on a further substantive visa to be granted to you; you may exit Australia for a very finite travel period and must re-enter Australia by a specified date.
The biggest risk with a BVB is that you forget the period for which your BVB is granted, and you then fail to re-enter Australia before the date specified. Take very careful note to start returning to Australia several days before your BVB expires, so that you have ample time to re-enter Australia when you return.
Bridging visa after re-entry
When you re-enter Australia your bridging visa b does not change back to a BVA but will show as a BVB, allowing you to continue to stay in Australia but importantly does not then have any exit and return facility.
You will need to take care to lodge a further BVB if you wish to again exit Australia during the period in which you are waiting for the grant of your further substantive visa.
If you hold a BVA or a BVB you can apply for a further BVB.
Only one chance!
Unfortunately, if you hold a BVC or a BVD or a BVE then you can’t apply for a BVB. It’s like losing your virginity.
Think of it this way – if you hold a BVC or BVD or BVE, you can never go back to get a BVB, at least until after your further substantive visa application has been granted.
As explained above, bridging visas “bridge” you from the time an existing visa ceases to be “in effect” until the time a decision is made on any new visa you may have applied for.
Bridging visa lifespan after a decision on substantive application
Usually, the bridging visa will run for a period of up to 28 days (and possibly 35 days, depending on when you lodge your application and when your bridging visa is granted) after the decision of the Department to refuse your visa application, allowing you or your migration agent or immigration lawyer enough time to file an appeal.
Bridging visa to travel overseas
The Department of Home Affairs can issue you with a bridging visa if you intend to exit Australia. This is known as “bridging visa on departure grounds”. These visas are for a fixed period.
Extension of BVE
There may be some scope to have these extended if, for some reason, you can’t depart. This is subject to negotiation between you and the compliance officer at the Department of Home Affairs.
For example, you might be without a visa and need a week or so to get things in order before you can exit Australia.
Immigration will often grant you this type of visa for a fixed term which will allow you time to exit the country or lodge another application.
Depart on BVE – consequences
There are serious consequences that follow after you exit Australia on a BVE. This is known as “special return criteria” where you may suffer a period of exclusion from Australia or ban from having a further visa granted for Australia.
BVE ban duration
The duration of this ban will depend on the sort of visa you are applying for and your circumstances for something that I advise on regularly and you should get independent immigration legal advice if you wish to make an application for Australia after exiting on a BVE.
Bridging visa “in effect”
Although your bridging visa may be granted (and you may have received a letter from Immigration saying that you have been granted this visa) take care to note that this visa will usually only come “into effect” when your existing visa expires and will remain in place while your new visa application is being considered. For example, suppose you are a holder of a subclass 600 Visitor visa. And you apply for a subclass 482 Temporary Skills Shortage visa while onshore.
Check your precise visa status regularly on the Department’s site.
When your bridging visa kicks in
You will not automatically become the holder of a bridging visa as soon as you make that 482 visa application. You will still be on your subclass 600 until it expires. Your bridging visa will usually kick in, if at all, immediately upon the expiry of your subclass 600 Visitor visa.
Bridging visa might never activate
The Department may grant your 482 visa application while your subclass 600 visa is still in effect. This means the bridging visa granted to you in association with your subclass 482 visa application will be extinguished and never come into effect.
Bridging visa not automatically granted
Don’t stress. Be vigilant with your follow-up as to why it could be that your application might not have been a valid one.
Consider making a separate application for a bridging visa if your recent assistance visa application was valid but has not yet yielded a bridging visa grant – this usually wakes up case officers!
Stay onshore (inside Australia) if your bridging visa is not yet in effect.
Exiting Australia will usually extinguish this visa and you may well find yourself stuck offshore. This can be tricky and I would recommend you get some advice about any planned exit from Australia.
Please share your comments with me.
I’d love to know more about your experience with applying for this visa subclass!